2 large, fresh-baked crusty French rolls (approx. 8 by 4)
4 oz. butter, softened
1 pint fresh oysters, rinsed and drained
1 or 2 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups fine saltine cracker crumbs
2 tsp. black pepper, or more to your taste
vegetable shortening for frying
approx. 1/4 cup Tabasco sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees (hot) Cut a large lid in the top of each French roll, remove it and with your fingers scoop out the inside of the roll, leaving about a 1 inch shell inside the roll and on the lid. Use a brush or the back of a spoon to spread the softened butter all over the insides of the rolls and on the underside of the lids. Place rolls, hollowed-out side down, on a cookie sheet.
Place lids buttered side down. Put the rolls and lids in the hot oven for 5-8 minutes, or until they begin to get crispy but BEFORE they begin the brown. Remove rolls from oven and turn it down to 300 degrees. Pat dry the oysters. Begin heating 1-1/2 inches of shortening in a heavy skillet.
Four at a time, dip the oysters in beaten egg,then in a mixture of the cracker crumbs and black pepper. Drop a cracker crumb in the shortening--if it sizzles without turning immediately brown, the shortening is the right temperature. Fry oysters four at a time until they are light golden brown and crispy, turning after 2 minutes and frying for a total of 3 minutes altogether. Remove to paper
toweling. Repeat with rest of the oysters, four at a time (too many oysters in pan brings down temperature of the fat and makes them soggy).
Assembly: Put four fried oysters in the bottom of one of the French rolls. Sprinkle them with Tabasco sauce to your taste. For the second layer, put in as many more oysters as will fit in the roll with the lid snugly on top (usually 2-3 more oysters.) Sprinkle these with Tabasco and then put on the lid. Wrap entire loaf tightly in aluminum foil and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat assembly for second oyster loaf. Ready to serve! Get out some forks, paper napkins, lemon wedges if you like, and some cold beer.